All posts by principal

Men—Want Better Sex in Your Marriage? Be Seductive

What happened to the sexual revolution, anyway? I know a lot of my male clients feel like the sexual temperature at home feels a lot more like the 50’s than the 70’s.

As a marriage counselor, I have bird’s eye view of this phenomenon, so I thought I’d offer up my observations. After all, both men and women tell me their sexual problems all day long. (O.K., they do talk about other things, too!) A lot of people, and that includes therapists, make the mistake of thinking that all you need for good sex is love.

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Relationship Communication Secret — No Ghost Stories Allowed

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Did you know half your relationship communication problems are products of your imagination? It’s true! Under stress, your brain actually invents stories about how your partner’s up to no good. In our family, we call them “ghost stories.” You can end arguments with your partner faster—and with a lot less pain—if you learn to nip your storytelling in the bud.

When my stepdaughter Kristina was invited to her first slumber party, the first graders buzzed for a week about what it would be like to sleep away from family for first time. Who would be able to handle it? Who might crack under the pressure?

The morning after, my husband and I asked Kristina, “Well? Did anyone get scared? Or call their parents?”

“The only one who got scared was Diane.”

“At her own party? Why?”

“She told us ghost stories. And then SHE was awake all night.” Kristina rolled her eyes. “She thinks ghosts are real.”

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Women — Want Better Sex in Your Marriage? Stay in the Game

For too many married women, their sex life can best be described as a sad stalemate. Which is not at all what they signed up for. As one of my marriage counseling clients put it, “I did not get married to fight about sex for 40 years.”

Nor did you aspire to feel like co-CEO’s of your household. But a lot of couples do. Without a sexual connection, life together can feel like a lot of work. Conflicts cut deeper. When you feel sexually fulfilled, it’s easier to let things go. Whether the garbage got taken out or not just isn’t as important as the closeness you feel.

The usual story goes that women just don’t want sex any more after a certain number of years of marriage. But I don’t think that’s true. It’s just that married women wind up with a cocktail of pressures and disappointments that do a number on their desire.

If this sounds like you,

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No Time For Love?

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As the counseling session wrapped up, Sandy asked if we could schedule our next appointment for two weeks out instead of one. That way they would have more time to do their ‘homework’ and practice the communication skills they were learning.

“Yeah,” said Sandy’s husband, Mark, “We’re so busy we have to come to counseling to just to have a date!”

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Soft and Slow

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A recent Wall Street Journal article described the growing trend of CEO’s going to therapy. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. They’re under great pressure, they’re supposed to have all the answers, and their ability to communicate with others is crucial. But to make therapy work for them they have to adjust their pace. They have to realize that psychological changes don’t happen at the speed of business.

A lot of my clients have to learn the same lesson.

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Do Your Marriage a Favor – Rock the Boat!

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Sally knew that she and Mark had different tastes on their first date. But she kept her knowledge to herself. She wasn’t going to create problems in her new relationship.

When Mark said he liked to go camping, Sally didn’t express her first thought, which was: “The closest I get to camping is a walk in Central Park.” Instead, she said, “We used to go camping a lot when we were kids.” When he said he liked country music, she didn’t say, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Instead, she said, “My boss is crazy about Garth Brooks.”

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Envisioning Your Future

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In my counseling practice, I work with couples in all stages of life. I see engaged couples and married couples who are struggling with their relationships. Very often these men and women want very different things out of life. I see men who are driven to create brilliant careers married to women who just want them home with the family. I see women bent on building their dream houses married to men who want to take it easy on the weekends. I see social butterflies married to homebodies. They are disappointed that their dreams are not coming true, and they have fallen into the habit of criticizing the dreams of their spouses.

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The High Price of Keeping Quiet

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Karen and Jim came to me for marriage counseling because Karen had mentioned the word “divorce.”

“I don’t understand how we got to this point,” said Jim. “We were always the golden couple. Everyone envied our relationship. Our friends came to us with their marriage problems.”

“I think that’s part of your problem,” I said. “You almost had it too easy. You had a kind of connection that not everyone has. In the first few years, things just flowed.

“But it’s a lot harder with two toddlers in the house. Life doesn’t just flow when you’ve got little children. You’re both tired. Karen feels like she has two jobs and that Jim just doesn’t understand. Jim misses the couple time and on top of it, he feels like he’s the only one who does.”

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Life Balance May Be Closer Than You Think

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Not all vacations deliver the decompression they promise. But last month’s stay at Priest Lake, Idaho did. After a couple of days, I found myself in a truly remarkable state of relaxation. The resort was remote and rustic. You had to look hard to find something to do out of the water and we didn’t see any reason to make that effort. We contented ourselves with swimming, boating, and jet-skiing.

For hours at a time, I really did forget there might be anything more important to think about besides making sure everyone had on enough sun lotion and reading my chick-lit novel. (“Shopoholic Takes Manhattan,” highly recommended if you are in the market for pure entertainment.)

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Time for a Dream Update?

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“My wife and I need to learn to communicate,” said Tom. That’s what most people say when they call to schedule a marriage counseling appointment. And usually they’re right.
Three weeks later, I told Tom and Karla: “Communication is a problem, but it’s not the main problem. The main problem is that you’ve created a life you don’t like. And now you’re blaming each other for it.”

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